SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It was a busy morning Tuesday at the Salt Lake City International Airport as 74 veterans were preparing to leave on a plane to go to Washington D.C. This is made possible through the Utah Honor Flight program, which takes Utah veterans across the country to see monuments built for them along with everyone else who has served in our nation’s military.

“Words can’t even explain how I feel right now,” said Pacomio Archibeque, who served three years in Vietnam.

Walking through the airport, you could hear bagpipes welcoming the veterans and feel the excitement in the air

“I am feeling very honored, humbled. It’s a chance of the lifetime to be with all these people that have served our country. Just unbelievable feelings,” said Archibeque.

While there, veterans will visit several memorials  — including those dedicated to World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.

“We’ll also see Iwo Jima, the Navy Memorial and the Air Force Memorial. We have a special night tonight, we will be going to Fort McHenry, where the Star Spangled Banner was written and we’ll also see Arlington and the changing of the guard,” said Stephanie Harmon, Director of Utah Honor Flight.

Veteran Mel Yardley shared what he was most looking forward to, saying, “I want to see the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I have a cousin who died in Vietnam a couple of years before I went. I want to see his name. I’ve never seen the wall before.”

This is the Utah Honor Flight’s 40th mission — and over the years, they’ve been able to send over 2,000 veterans on trips like this one. Tuesday’s trip is the fourth one that’s sponsored by Nate Wade Subaru. 

“People are recognizing that service men who’ve served in the past maybe haven’t got recognition for what they’ve done. Not that I deserve it anymore than anyone else, but it’s good that people realize what we have contributed for our country,” Yardley said.

Many veterans at the airport called this the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I’m glad I served. I’m proud to serve my country and my service made me more appreciative of our country,” said Yardley.

Harmon said that tomorrow night around nine, people are invited to attend a homecoming at the airport as the veterans return from their trip.

To learn more, visit https://www.utahhonorflight.org/